The first time I used an iPhone was when the iPhone 4S debuted in 2011. The 4S was the first iPhone available on the Sprint network, and as an employee at the time we had a special training course on how to operate an iOS device. Although I had just purchased an HTC EVO 3D not more than a month prior, I was enamored with the newness and swift performance of the 4S in comparison; it was night and day. That was the day I decided that I needed to switch to an iPhone, so I did.
It’s been almost 6 years since that happened, and I’ve flip flopped more times than I can count between platforms. I spent the last year using both the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, and I recently switched back to iOS once again with the iPhone SE. I’ve been using my SE for about a week now, and I quickly came to the conclusion that iOS is totally boring, but that's exactly why I like it.
I had a good time with my Galaxy S7 devices. It was fun being able to customize them, and there were a couple of days where I spent a solid two or three hours trying to set everything up just the way I liked it. I enjoyed going through Samsung’s numerous features, testing out Samsung Pay, and toying with the Gear VR headset that came with my Galaxy S7 Edge. Upgrading to Android N was a breath of fresh air in the middle of it all, and the upgrade even came sooner than anyone expected (likely due to the Note 7 issues). I ended up discovering a couple of new launchers I really like, like ASAP, Evie, and even Microsoft’s Aero launcher. Even without root, the possibilities are endless when it comes to customizing Android.
Then I come back to iOS and there’s so much less to do, even if I wanted to. However, as I get older and I find I use my phone less for entertainment and more for “the basics”, the less I miss about the flashiness of Android.
Even with iOS 11 on the horizon, I'm unfazed that ultimately the update includes only a couple of major changes but is mostly comprised of smaller quality of life changes. I consider iOS 11 anything but exhilarating, but just because something is boring doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. I didn’t always feel that way. It wasn’t too long ago that being boring did mean it was “bad” in my book, or in the very least not worth my time.
Maybe it’s just a part of getting older. As I gained more responsibilities and had less time to spend tinkering and toying with Android, a hobby that I used to enjoy immensely, I found that I just wanted a phone that worked. Although I now consider Android a perfectly stable operating system (as opposed to 5 or 6 years ago), I still feel that I have to spend a considerable amount of time to make an Android device “pretty”.
The thing is, there is no making iOS pretty. iOS just is, for the most part. Your apps are displayed one right after the other, customizable only by placing them in designated folders if you so choose. You can change your wallpaper, your ringtone, and your widgets. Soon you’ll be able to change your Control Center, and that’s about the extent customization on iOS. Considering that’s all I really need it for, its otherwise boring nature works out well for me at this particularly busy stage in my life.
I sometimes wonder how long iOS can last this way. Obviously not everybody feels the same way I do about iOS, and I’m sure there are a significant number of people that are looking to leave iOS because iOS 11 is so predictable and underwhelming. At the same time, iOS has been going strong for 10 years now; clearly something about its perfectly average experience is working out well.